This final day of the warm up match between Essex and India was all a bit surreal. The day started with Paul Walter and James Foster at the crease. Foster is clearly a very experienced cricketer who did play for England, if not as many times as he really should. Walter on the other hand has only 10 First Class games to his name.
The pair were facing an international bowling attack that really gave neither of them a problem for a large number of balls. In common with Michael Pepper the data before both waited for the loose ball and punished it.
Both looked set for big scores, but Umesh got a ball through Foster’s defence and he was clean bowled for 42. Essex were 277 for 6.
Matt Cloes was next up, he was also making his way back to the pavilion after 7 balls, Shikhar Dhawan had missed a fairly difficult slip catch but made no mistake when given a second chance from the bowling of Umesh, Coles was gone for a Duck.
Perhaps this Essex innings would be over before lunch, a large proportion of the crowd were really hoping to see India and in particular Virat Kohli bat. But the Essex batsmen had other plans.
Aron Nijjar, with 11 First Class matches under his belt joined Walter and the two carried on frustrating the India bowlers. Walter looked well set, and typically just after I said, ‘He’s not going to give his wicket away’, he wafted at a ball from Ishant Sharma and was caught by a superb catch from Rahane. Out for 74 Walter had played a very fine innings to add to his 4 wickets taken in the first innings. He was the Man of the Match in my opinion and surely must get the recognition he deserves and a place in the First XI.
Ravi Ashwin had at last appeared, having been posted as every single batsman each time a wicket fell, he bowled 5 overs for 21 runs, so a small cameo for him in spite of his regular appearances on the scoreboard.
Feroze Khushi was next in, he hadn’t appeared on Essex’s original team sheet, and was noted as a sub fielder when he took a wonder catch to despatch Jadeja. This must’ve been like a dream come true for him. A lovely lad, I spoke to him at the media day last summer, I don’t imagine he saw himself batting against India a year later!
Lunch came and went and Essex batted on, they eventually declared on 359 for 8, Nijjar was on 29 and Khushi 14. I really hope the England batsmen go about their business with the sam patience against the India bowlers.
We’d get to see India bat, if only for a few hours. It was only a matter of 9 balls for Shikhar Dhawan, he was clean bowled by Matt Quinn for his second Duck of the match. Not the best of returns for him. He was one very enjoyable to watch in the field, he really seems to be enjoying himself and made sure he gave autographs when he was near the boundary.
Pujara joined Rahul and the 2 batted steadily, Rahul reaching 36 from 64 balls and Pujara 23 from 35 before he too was out, a great catch from Varun Chopra giving Paul Walter his 5th wicket of the match. Rahane batting at 4 made 19 from 27. The biggest cheer of the 3 days came when rain started tipping down, the relief was palpable! It did however curtail the match. I thoroughly enjoyed the 3 days, it was great to see the Superstars of India close up, a chance not many get. Credit to Essex for making it possible. And the performers each day were truly wonderful, I can only begin to understand how hot they must have been!